Hardy Arts Center Trust Needs More Money To Survive
By Susan Stabley
Miami’s Performing Arts Center Trust, the group planning to operate the complex once it opens, may be forced to shut down in September without an infusion of funds, says CEO Michael Hardy.
The trust needs $3 million to continue running for another year and about $8.5 million to survive through the center’s opening day, Mr. Hardy said Friday.
"We don’t look for a worst-case scenario," Mr. Hardy said. "If we do run out and there’s no other source, we cease operations."
While the center is under construction, the trust’s role is to plan programming and operations and work with the center’s resident companies.
Money has nearly run out for pre-operating expenses.
The center, which straddles Biscayne Boulevard between 13th and 14th streets, originally was expected to open in October. Now, county officials hope construction will be finished in August 2006. The project originally was budgeted at $255 million, but county officials now estimate that the project will cost at least $67.7 million more.
The budget for pre-operating expenses – including staffing, insurance and rent – was cut from $8 million to $4 million when county commissioners approved the project in September 2001, according to a June status report. Private benefactors set aside $5 million from an $80 million capital campaign for pre-operation expenses, the report says.
Mr. Hardy said he hopes the county will find funds for the trust.
County Manager George Burgess told commissioners Tuesday that "to have that discussion today is premature."
Mr. Burgess said the county is waiting for the trust to give him its multiyear budgets.
The center is expected to have a staff of 100 and an annual budget of $24 million. It faces its first year with a deficit of $3 million and should break even at the end of its fourth year, according to the status report.
Mr. Hardy said he hopes to see "some positive development in about two months" in securing parking facilities for the center. As many as 1,500 to 1,7000 spaces are needed for the downtown venue, he said.